On this page; you will find photos and descriptions of those materials most commonly mistaken for ambergris. You may be able to identify the material you have collected from the information below. If you are unable to identify your find; please go to the Contact page and complete the enquiry form

Fat/Tallow Products

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Most often light colours throughout (white, cream, yellow). Also amber or brown colours.

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Firm or hard but can be cut or broken apart easily.

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Waxy/greasy texture. The inside surface is normally smooth.


Ambergris is dense and typically has a very hard texture (like rock or dry clay).



Wax Products

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Most often white, cream or light grey in colour throughout.

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Firm to very hard but can be cut quite easily.

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May have a shiny appearance on the surface.

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Very slippery/waxy to handle. Smooth inside texture

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Often has slightly transparent/see through quality (it is best to cut a small thin piece and hold up to the light to check).


Ambergris never has any transparent quality.



Marine Sponges

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Earthy colours (grey, brown). If very dry; white or cream colours. Interior may be a bright orange colour. Rounded, oval shapes are typical.

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If fresh from the ocean: damp/moist with a soft, spongy texture and a strong marine or bad (rotting/manure) odour.

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If dry; firm and fibrous texture with some “give” to it and very light in weight. If dry; this material will not melt to a liquid when a hot needle is applied.


Ambergris is never fibrous. Light coloured ambergris (white/grey) does not have a bad (rotten/manure) odour.



Natural Rubber

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Often has a darker (black/brown) outer surface colour. Cream or yellow interior colour.

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Firm or hard/dense but it should be slightly pliable. (It should be possible to pull or stretch a small piece of the material).

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May have a corrugated (rough) surface texture. The inside texture can be smooth.


Ambergris is never pliable unless it is jet black in colour.



Natural Tree Resin/Fossilised Tree Resin

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Also known as amber/Baltic amber/kauri gum

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Colour ranges from cream to amber (golden) and rich dark amber red.

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Very hard with a glassy appearance. If tree resin has been in the ocean for a long time; it may have developed a rough corrugated chalky surface but the interior can still be glassy/transparent. (This transparent quality may be most noticeable if a small piece is taken from the item and held up to the light).


 

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